Boedker back in Valley, spleen stays in Winnipeg

Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker had to stay in Winnipeg for 10 days after his spleen ruptured.

Perry Nelson/Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

If it had been the Stanley Cup playoffs, Mikkel Boedker would go down in NHL lore.

As it stands, the Arizona right wing’s decision to stay in the game after a big hit behind the net from Winnipeg’s Mark Stuart on Jan. 18 is still a testament to the toughness (or insanity) of professional athletes.

"Looking back, I don’t think it was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. But the adrenaline was going and I never thought it was that big a deal," a weary sounding Boedker said by phone Wednesday afternoon. "It’s part of the game that when something hurts, you keep on playing."

As most know by now, Boedker was taken to a nearby hospital for a splenectomy after his spleen ruptured. He had to stay in Winnipeg for 10 days before returning to the Valley on Wednesday because the airline had a 10-day no-fly rule for patients who had undergone major surgery. 

Here’s how the injury and surgery went down.

Midway through the second period of Winnipeg’s 4-3 shootout win, Stewart hit Boedker behind the net.

"It wasn’t a bad hit or anything like that," he said. "It was one of those where I was trying to keep the puck going on the wall and he had different ideas so he kind of hit me awkwardly. It wasn’t square to my body. It was towards the left side of the body because I was stretching for the puck so that part of me was pretty open."

At first, Boedker thought he just got the wind knocked out of him.

"I got off after that shift and I remember drinking a lot of Gatorade thinking, ‘Whoa, that was a hard hit,’" he said. "I squirted some water in my face, thought my breath would some back in a minute, so I went out for another shift."

When he came back to the bench, he told captain Shane Doan his rib cage was hurting and Doan told him he’d be all right when he got his wind back.

COYOTES at MAPLE LEAFS

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Records: Coyotes 16-26-6, Maple Leafs 22-23-4
Season series: Coyotes lead 1-0
Injuries: Arizona: F Mikkel Boedker (splenectomy) is out indefinitely. C Joe Vitale (upper body) is day to day. Toronto: D Dion Phaneuf (upper body) is week to week. D Stephane Robidas (upper body) and F Joffrey Lupul (lower body) are day to day.
Quick facts: The Maple Leafs have lost seven straight (just like Arizona) and 15 of their past 18 games after Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to New Jersey. … Since taking over as interim coach for the Maple Leafs on Jan. 7, Peter Horachek is 1-7-1. … The Leafs are allowing 33.1 shots per game, which ranks 28th in the NHL. The Coyotes are 25th at 32.3 … Phil Kessel leads Toronto with 45 points (19 goals). James Van Riemsdyk leads the Leafs in goals with 21. … The Coyotes recalled F Brendan Shinnimin.

Between periods, Boedker laid down in the medical room and spoke to head trainer Jason Serbus, but the staff couldn’t find anything immediately wrong so Boedker returned for the third period and skated two shifts.

"Let’s just say I wasn’t doing anything good to help the team," said Boedker, who watched the rest of the game and the shootout from the dressing room. "I remember going to the shower and feeling dizzy. When I got out of the shower, that’s when I went out and got on a stretcher for the ambulance. And once I laid down in that stretcher I felt really (crappy)."

When he arrived at the hospital, a doctor pressed his rib cage and Boedker was in agony. Emergency surgery was scheduled and a nurse told him to count backward from 10 as she put him under with anesthesia. 

"I got to eight and that’s the last thing I remember," he said. "I woke up feeling sleepy and weak."

Boedker has no real timeline for recovery but he said he is weaning himself off pain medication and is progressing well with no setbacks thus far. He has a scar from his chest to his belly and there are staples in his stomach. 

"That’s something new and different to walk around with," he said. 

The most frustrating part of the injury is Boedker felt he was playing some of the best hockey of his career. With 14 goals and 28 points in 45 games, he was on pace to set career highs in both categories.

"I felt comfortable every time I was on the ice and every time I had the puck," he said. "I had really gained confidence so it sucks not to be out there."

Boedker will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and he can become unrestricted the following season. Coyotes GM Don Maloney said he has had preliminary conversations with Boedker’s agent about a new contract and may have more substantive talks soon.

Boedker could elect to take a one-year deal and test the market afterward, but Maloney hopes to sign him to a longer deal.

"It’s a thing I have to think about over the next course of time with my agent," Boedker said. "I’ve been here seven years now. Some of it was in the AHL but I’ve been part of the Coyotes organization for seven years. It’s my team. I’ve played here my whole career.

"We’ll see what they can offer and can’t offer. We’ll see how it fits in our books and see if we can find a fair number."

In the meantime, Boedker said once he is up and about, he plans to be around the team as much as possible, although he won’t take road trips.

"I suppose if there’s anything good that came out of this, it’s that I get to watch the Super Bowl," he said.

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